The committee formed by the government to invstigate the allegations made against Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari reminds of kangaroo courts that autocrats across the world form to persecute their opponents and rivals.
Finance Minister Janardan Sharma has got Adhikari suspended by influencing Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba due to his ego and prejudice, and got a committee formed through the Cabinet to investigate Adhikari.
Sharma has not been able to publicly defend suspension of governor of an autonomous body like the NRB. Governors are not generally suspended unless they show serious moral depravity or knowingly harm the country. They must never be suspended on the basis of policy differences.
The NRB can adopt a policy that differs from that of the government based on the needs of the economy. Political parties can disrupt the country’s economy in accordance to their short-term interests or political needs. The NRB has been given autonomy precisely to ensure that it can pay attention to stability of the economy through monetary policy to stop that.
Governor Adhikari had implemented the NRB policies in coordination with the government policies even in practice. The NRB and the government coordinate their policies at normal times and the finance secretary is kept in the NRB board for that purpose.
Adhikari has not acted to harm the economy defying the government or flouting government’s instructions. He instead intervened and prevented hike in interest rate for a long time to fulfill the finance minister’s wish to increase loan investment by banks keeping a low interest rate, and raise economic activities and the economic growth rate. That is seen to have increased flow of cheap money into the economy, increased import and put pressure on foreign currency reserves now.
Some policies adopted with good intention can prove to be wrong in the long run and put pressure on the economy. No economy would suffer crisis if all the policies were proved right and accurate prediction of a crisis were possible. There is no country in the world that has never suffered an economic crisis. All the state organs, therefore, should have come together to find a solution to the problem currently facing our economy without blaming anyone.
Finance Minister Sharma instead has alleged Adhikari of not cooperating with the government, harming the economy, leaking important economic information among others to avenge on an absolutely different issue.
It is not hidden from anyone that Sharma has attacked Adhikari after revelations that he took initiative to release the money transferred in the name of Prithvi Bahadur Shah from America that the NRB has frozen after America requested the central bank to investigate and return the amount back to America suspecting that it may have arrived through money laundering or fraud. To take an initiative to release the amount that has been red-flagged by America was a serious mistake on part of the finance minister.
That he got the governor suspended suspecting that Adhikari leaked the information and a committee formed including persons close to him to investigate that shows that he is intent on practicing vigilante justice.
The kind of persons included in the ‘kangaroo committee’ formed on initiative of Sharma gives away what his intentions are. The committee that Sharma has got constituted through the Cabinet including a former justice who is his relative and two party cadres has ended the possibility of fair investigation of allegations made against the governor and chances for justice.
Constitution of such ‘kangaroo committee’ has made mockery of justice. Responsibility for that now lies not just with Sharma but Chairman of the Cabinet that formed the ‘kangaroo committee’ and his party Nepali Congerss (NC). Neither PM Deuba nor NC can now run away from that.
Practising ‘kangaroo court’ and vigilante justice is not new for the Maoists that had practiced so during the armed insurgency. But how could NC agree for that? It should declare whether any citizen has the right for fair investigation of allegations made against her in a liberal and democratic society it has promised to the people. Whether that is a fundamental right for any citizen in today’s Nepal or not? If yes, why is that right of Governor Adhikari denied? How could a Cabinet meeting attended by PM Deuba form such a ‘kangaroo committee’ on whims of Minister Sharma? On what basis the Deuba Cabinet endorsed such a decision that attacks the autonomy granted to the NRB and its governor by the law?
These questions raised against PM Deuba and NC led by him are not simple. This Cabinet decision to form the ‘kangaroo committee’ attacks the very trust that the people have on NC for the kind of values and norms it swears allegiance to.
The only way to correct the mistake now is to revoke the ‘kangaroo committee’ and withdraw the suspension of Governor Adhikari.
NC should mull whether the public trust on it for its values and norms is important or transient interests of ruling coalition and defnse of the finance minister’s whims are?